Rome/Pompeii - Oct 25th - 29th, 2008

Rome, Naples & Pompeii, Italy

  • Oct 25Th - 29Th, 2008

  • Bob, Debe, Diana & Marty

This part of the trip was just the beginning of a very long vacation. It all started with flying from St. Louis to New York and then crossing the Atlantic, flying all night, ended up in Rome, Italy. Even in Rome we were taking side trips to other places before heading onto a 16 day Transatlantic Cruise on the brand new Carnival Splendor Ship. Since this trip was so long, we decided to separate the land part of the trip from the cruise so hang on to your socks as we experience one of the most fascinating places in Europe. Rome stood as the most important city in the world and was known as the "Eternal City." Rome is well worth at least spending three days minimum when visiting but I suggest more. It is filled with so much history that you won't want to miss.

The above picture on the left is the hotel we stayed in. We got checked in early that morning and headed off to catch the hop on hop off bus. Bob and I bought a two day pass that included the River tour while Diana and Marty bought only an one day pass. On the right you will see one of the restaurants we ate at while the below photos also show places we ate. In the bottom left photo you can see the pizzas they serve. You don't walk up and say, "can I have a medium pizza or a slide," instead you say, "give me about this much" and with your hands show them. They then tell you the price. On the bottom right was a small store where we had a delicious sandwich one day.

Below you will see the Hop on Hop off that we took. There were a few to pick between but we found that this one went everywhere we wanted to go. Below on the right you can see Diana and Marty on the bus as we toured many things.

Our first stop was at the Piazza Venezia. So much here to see but we quickly visited sites of some ruins. The Piazza Venezia is also where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is but we headed back there later in the trip. On the left you will find the Trajans Column. The statue at the top has been replaced with a statue of St. Peter though. The column stands in the Trajans Forum. The right photo is just one of the many ruins in the Roman Forum.

The above four photos are taken at the Roman Colosseum. What a fascinating place to visit. Bob and I had been to the Colosseum before but this time, we did the tour inside also. A suggestion to everyone is go ahead and do it your first time. It was great. The top two photos are on the outside of the Colosseum. (look close on the left photo and that is Bob and I standing in front of there). The bottom left photo is the inside of the Colosseum (look close and you can see the partial floor that was built to show you what it would have looked like in the days). Under the floor would have been were the gladiators waited. In the right photo shows the people outside the Colosseum dressed as gladiators making money off tourists taking their photo. Seeing this does it make you want to go watch the movie "Gladiators!"

Between the Colosseum and Palatine Hill stands the Arch of Constantine. It was erected to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312. It was dedicated in 315.

Here we come to Circus Maximum. In the 6c BCE, the ancient Romans built the Circus Maximus in the city of Rome. Basically, the Maximus was a race track. It was designed to race chariots. The Circus Maximus was the most well known race track. It could seat over 250,000 people! Admission was free. Anyone could attend the races, including Rome's poor. There were races every day. It was the height of success to race in the Circus Maximus. (now are you thinking Ben Hur!) In the right photo you can see the remains of Palatine Hill. Palatine Hill is the center most part of the Seven Hills and is one of the oldest areas of the city.

The Roman Forum, known as the center of the world in the Roman days, is filled with many ruins and continued to go through excavation even today. In the left top photo, looking through the Arch of Severus, you can see the people as they visit the ruins in the forum. In the right photo you get a broader shot of the Arch of Severus but also you can see the ruins of Foca Column standing behind it. The three columns remaining in the background are the remains of the Temple of Castor and Pollux. In the below left photo is remains of The House of the Vestal Virgins. In the below right photo is the Arch of Titus. The Arch of Titus is a triumphal arch with a single arched opening. It was constructed shortly after the death of the emperor Titus (born AD 41, emperor 79-81).

You can't go to Rome without a visit to the smallest city-state in Italy. Most people know it as the home of St, Peters Basilica, home of the Pope. Below left is a photo of ST. Peters Basilica and the Square. The Square is where thousands of people come to see the Pope give many speeches. In the center of the square stands the Egyptian Obelisk, a monument brought to Rome by an Egyptian Emperor back in 37 AD. It also serves as a sun dial. Also located in the square is the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul. In the below right photo is San Angelo Castle. Now a museum but was once the home of an Emperor. It has also been used as a fortress and castle. The bridge that leads to San Angelos Castle is called Ponte Sant'Angelo, formerly bridge to Hadrain. is lined with angel statues holding the elements of the Passion of Christ. The Passion is the Christian theological term used for the events and suffering – physical, spiritual, and mental – of Jesus in the hours before and including his trial and execution by crucifixion.

Also a time to hop off the bus is to see the Pantheon. The Pantheon is the oldest standing domed structure in Rome. This building was originally built as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome. Since the 7Th century it has been used as a Roman Catholic Church. Look close in the photo on the right and you will see Diana and Marty as they stand at the entrance.

Below left is one of the meeting spots of Rome. And on this day - there were many people to prove that true. The Spanish Steps are a set of steps in Rome, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the church of Trinita dei Monti. These steps are the longest and widest staircase in all Europe. On the right, the photo is a church that faces the Roman Forum. The building was called the Tallianum back in the Roman Days. Apostles Peter and Paul belong to the unhappy ones whose fate took them to this musty jail. A lattice work in front of a cavity in the wall marks the place where Peter's head was battered against the wall. According to a less hard-hearted tradition, it is the stone on which he rested his head. Nowadays a chapel is situated above the Mamertine Prison, called the Chapel of St. Peter in Prison.

Another favorite for tourists is the Trevi Fountain. And this day, it was very popular as you can see from the photo on the right below. Trevi Fountain is within walking distance of the Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona. According to legend, it is lucky to throw coins with one's right hand over one's right shoulder into the Trevi Fountain on the last day of one's visit. Throwing one coin in will ensure that the thrower will return to Rome. Throwing two coins ensures that the thrower will fall in love with a beautiful Roman girl (or handsome boy), and throwing three coins ensures that the thrower will marry that girl or boy in Rome. Today the fountain is filled with thousands of coins.

Back at the Piazzo Venezia is this beautiful building in the below photo. This building has a museum in it but also the tomb of the unknown soldier is there and it attracts many tourists. This impressive building was constructed in the fifteenth century by Cardinal Pietro Barbo, who went on to become Pope Paul II.

Above on the left is the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier!" On the right is the sign posted at the gate/entrance to the building/tomb area. It reads: It is absolutely forbidden to throw rubbish or dirty the monument; to eat or to drink; to sit or lie down on the steps, to climb up the seat or banisters, to make noise, to have a bad behavior, to lead animals or to smoke!!! I think that takes care of about everything. lol
As we climb the steps to Piazza del Campidoglio, you can see the beautiful buildings as you head up to Capital Hill. Here is where Roman Divinities were once praised and nowadays it is headquarters of the Italian Government. The buildings on the right and left are now an Art Museum and a museum with Hellenic and Roman masterpieces. Also you will see statues of Castor and Pollux standing side by side with their horses. Once you reach the top, you can then see the statue in the below picture on the left. That is the equestrian statue of emperor Marcus Aurelius, now replaced by a copy. In the other photo below is the statue of 'She Wolf' with Romulus and Remus. The legend goes that Rhea, a vestal virgin, gave birth to these twins after Mars, god of war, seduced her and she became pregnant with the twin boys. Then King Amulius, her uncle, had her and the twins put to death. It is said that her servant put the boys in a basket and put them by the Tiber River which was flooding and caused them to float downstream. It was also said they were nursed by a wolf. Once grown, Romulus slew Remus over a dispute about which one of the two brothers had the support of the local deities to rule the new city and give it his name. The name they gave the city was Rome. Supposedly, Romulus had stood on one hill and Remus another, and a circle of birds flew over Romulus, signifying that he should be king. So the legend lives on that Rome was named by Romulus.
Below is a photo of the Jewish Synagogue. The first day we went by it it was lines with the wreaths you can see in the below picture on the right. We did visit the Jewish Ghetto and had lunch in the area.
Below are a couple of various ruins that have been unearthed during excavations over the years. I know the building on the right is one of the most well perserved in Rome but can not remember what it was nor could I find it with research on the internet.

Bob and I take our chances with the "Mouth of Truth!" This is located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria Church. Starting from the Middle Ages, it was believed that if one told a lie with one's hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off. As the story goes, a man decided to test his wife's faithfulness, and in front of a gathered crowd, she put her hand in the mouth, and was instantly assaulted by a man who leaped out and began kissing and embracing her. Everyone thought he was crazy, and he was let go. So when the husband asked the fateful question, the wife was able to answer that other than her husband and this crazy person, no man had ever touched her. She told the truth... because the crazy man was her lover. In a fit of pique, the god stopped biting people. This statue became more famous from the movie, "Roman Holiday!"

Photos above were taken as we cruised down the Tiber River. On the right you can see the bridge that leads to the San Angelo Castle and the many angels statues that line it.

The above four photos are "The Four Fountains!" This crossroads is named after the fountains that decorate its four corners and marks the highest point on Rome's highest hill. We were lucky enough to have our hotel be very close to this crossroad.
The American Embassy in Rome. As you can see, barricades are in front of this embassy. Very close to here is also the Hard Rock Cafe.
The first picture above on the left is looking into the bay in Naples. ON the right is Castel Nuovo (New Castle) sometimes called Maschio Angioino (1279-1282).

Above on the left is Egg Castle. Legend has it that the poet Virgil put a magical egg somewhere in the foundations--and as long as the egg remained, Naples would be, well, Naples. Thus the name "Egg Castle." Egg Castle is a popular place for marriages, and the marina area that surrounds it has some fine seafood restaurants. This castle was used by early Kings to rule. The photo on the right I believe was the Royal Palace. I haven't been able to confirm that. My photo was taken from a long distance away.
Once we arrived in Pompeii, the first thing I noticed was a Burger King listed as Burger King Pompeii. From it we parked and we were dropped off at the very close to the entrance of the ruins. But in the above photos you will see the vendors outside of the ruins before the ruins. No need to show now, plenty of time at the end of the tour. But, it is a great place to pick up an cheap souvenir. Remember that you can negotiate with them a little. The more you buy, the cheaper you get it.
The tour took us to the right of the vendors and into this Cameo Factory. The store was several rooms and the prices were definitely up there. Of course they had carvers right there for you to watch. The longer and better the carver is (with details), the more expensive it was. But it was obvious that the work was tedious and hard. Definitely a trade everyone couldn't do.

In the same building as the Cameo factory but back outside and in another entrance we found our "included" lunch. The place was backed from several tours and we took our spot with our group and sit down. Even though the photo above shows the room wasn't totally full - it was full with people waiting. We were served at our table (no buffet) and it was definitely some real Italian pasta. We had a choice between two different types meals for our meal and everyone enjoyed it all.

Next, on to Pompeii, Italy. One of the most shocking places I have ever been to. Here is a little history of Pompeii: An ancient city of southern Italy southeast of Naples. Founded in the sixth or early fifth century B.C., it was a Roman colony by 80 B.C. and became a prosperous port. It was destroyed by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Volcanic debris buried the town and protected the ruins for years. Archaeological excavations, begun in 1748, have uncovered much of the city, including forums, temples, baths, theatres, and hundreds of private homes. ABout 2000 people are thought to have died mainly from the deadly gases and then covered in the ash. The remains found were still well perserved. The ash was believed to have been 16 - 60 feet at different points of the city. Above is a photo of the entrance to the city ruins. Below you will find photos of Bob and I as we stand in one area of the ruins while in the photo on the right you can see us sitting at the steps of the remains from the theatre. In the very bottom photo is a cast of one of the bodies found. When bodies were found during the excavation, the empty cavities were filled with plaster as to show the person and a story of what had taken place. In this photo you could tell that he probably was a worker by the belt around his waist.

As you can see from the above photos and writings, this was indeed a wonderful beginning to our trip. Having the highlight of your trip be the first few days might seem depressing but we had the next 16 days to continue to think and talk about what we had seen. I even made a couple of small photo albums that was offered on the cruise ship to bring back home. They were a small book and was well worth the price of them. ($5) lol As you know, this is not the end of this journey. So as we head down to the port of Rome - come join us for 16 more days of relaxing and seeing Spain, Portugal before crossing the Atlantic Ocean for a fun day in St. Maartin, VI and ending in Florida.


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